Spoken-Word Poet Jefferson Bethke Stirs Up ‘Christians and Tattoo’ Debate

Jesus is So Cool

Jesus is So Cool (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Spoken-word poet Jefferson Bethke took to his YouTube account Monday to speak on the issue of Christians and tattoos (he has two, reading “loved” and “forgiven” in “original Greek”). According to Bethke, the Scriptures do not say Christians are forbidden from getting tattoos and that many of the passages used to make tattoos a no-no for Christians are taken out of context and therefore wrongly applied. It seems like a sound argument, as the context of the Leviticus passage (19:28) often cited seems to be more about making the ancient Israelite community God called as a standard in the world stand out from their pagan neighbors, who apparently marked their bodies for the dead. The verse seems to speak of marking one’s body for the dead, as people still do today with tattoos (is that sinful)? Anyway, he got some heat…

Bethke writes introducing the video: “I get this question more than any question online so I thought I’d try to answer it. I hope it is an encouragement to those who watch it. My hope is that this wouldn’t be an issue people freak out about but rather something we engage each other on like normal civil human beings. Appreciate you guys!”

Needless to say (but one must say it anyway, right?), Bethke’s argument caused a flurry of comments and reactions from viewers of the YouTube video, and those on his Facebook page:

“Also I’m not knocking anyone who has tats, but what about being different from the world? The world get tats, the world wants to be cool and have swag, the world denies the father and the son and yet we want to be like them. Now I know its coming ‘I just like tats’ or ‘here comes the pharisee’ but when I read the Bible I think about what would Jesus do in our age. Would he be concerned about popular culture or about His fathers business.” – craigo413

To which Bethke responded (to similar comments) on his Facebook page: “… appreciate your sentiment, but according to your logic about not wanting to look like the world, wouldn’t that mean we shouldn’t wear clothes? it’s the same thing. Everytime the Bible talks about not looking like the world its talking in the way we operate life (how we love, how we serve, how we use our money, etc).”

Bethke was also criticized for having tattoos…that say “loved” and “forgiven”: “This is exactly what I thought? Isn’t he supposed to know this from withing his heart? What if he loses an arm one day? (which I of course don’t wish to happen to him). I think that if you love God and Jesus and know the message in your heart, you don’t need external or earthly ways to show it to the world.” – savamounange

And one person, just had to take it there:

“Have you ever thought that in the tribulation when satan marks people with the 666 maybe he won’t even bother marking those with tattoos because unknowingly Any tattoo is already considered the mark of the devil?” –  miraclesbbyudid

Is it normative that Christians are to refrain from getting tattoos, based on Scripture? People will argue for days that Christians should not drink alcohol, while other Christians will point out that Scripture’s only prohibition on consuming “strong drink” is to not get drunk. Is this tattoo issue any different, or the same?


4 responses

  1. […] Spoken-Word Poet Jefferson Bethke Stirs Up ‘Christians and Tattoo’ Debate (christculturenews.wordpress.com) […]

  2. Here are my biblical responses to your youtube


    I am interest in your reply!

    1. Thanks for sharing, az4christ. I personally don’t have time to check out your content in depth yet, but maybe some readers will check out your argument. GOD bless!

  3. […] Spoken-Word Poet Jefferson Bethke Stirs Up ‘Christians and Tattoo’ Debate […]

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